Presenters’ Biographies





January 19-21, 2017
Guelph, Ontario

Big Ideas Lecture in Art & Culture

suzylakesqSuzy Lake is among the first female artists in Canada to adopt performance, video, and photography to explore the politics of gender, the body, and identity. In her artistic practice, which spans nearly 50 years, Lake addresses the individual’s relationship to societal forces that break and reveal constructions or restraints built into our culture. Concurrent to her practice, Lake taught for 40 years in Montreal, Toronto, and received Professor Emerita status from the University of Guelph in 2008. In 2016, Lake received the Governor General’s award in Visual and Media Arts and the Scotiabank Photography Award. She currently lives and makes work in Toronto.  Lake has participated in significant conceptual or feminist exhibitions such as: WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (LA MOCA and tour, 2007-08), Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman, Suzy Lake, 1972-1978 (Santa Monica Museum of Art, 2007), WOMAN: The feminist Avant-Garde from the 1970’s (Sammlung Verbund collection European tour, 2013-18) and Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965-80 (2010). In 2014 the Art Gallery of Ontario presented a full-career retrospective titled Introducing Suzy Lake.
Official website:

What Can I Do? A Workshop on “Doing Reconciliation”

Chris Creighton-Kelly is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and cultural critic. He was born in the UK of South Asian/British heritage. His artworks — presented across Canada, in India, Europe and the U.S.A. — have been internationally recognized with grants and awards from five countries.

Chris has given numerous lectures, workshops and presentations both in community based organizations and in academe. He has persistently been interested in questions of absence in the discourses of the Western world — whose epistemology is unquestioned? Who is not represented? Who has power? Who does not? And why?

Chris appreciates his audiences a lot.

Diane Roberts is the founder of The Arrivals Personal Legacy Process and has been its lead workshop facilitator for the past 15 years. The roots of storytelling and multi-disciplinary art forms — mixing of ritual song, dance, storytelling, live art and theatre — drive her arts practice. Her intuitive style of facilitation draws on specifically crafted creative engagement tools that inspire people of all cultural backgrounds to unearth their authentic creative impulses. Her working methodology draws out a common vocabulary amongst Indigenous and diverse artists, their ways of working and their sense of themselves in a global society.

Guelph Lecture—On Being Canadian

jeannette-armstrongsqBoth educator and protector, Jeannette Armstrong is a professor of Indigenous Studies and a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Philosophy at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan). She is a Spokesperson for indigenous peoples’ rights. The award-winning writer and activist, novelist and poet has always sought to change deeply biased misconceptions related to Aboriginal peoples. Her research into indigenous philosophies and Okanagan Syilx thought and environmental ethics that are coded into Syilx literature has been recognized locally and globally, and she serves as an active member of the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the En’owkin Centre. Known for her literary work, Armstrong has written about creativity, education, ecology and Indigenous rights. Slash, which Armstrong published in 1985, is considered by many as the first novel by a First Nations woman.

annhuisqAnn Hui is the Globe and Mail’s National Food Reporter, using food as a lens to explore public policy, health, the environment, science and technology. In 2016, she travelled across Canada for a series called Chop Suey Nation, which told the stories of Chinese restaurants in small towns and the families who run them. She’s now working on a book, to be published by Douglas & McIntyre in 2018, about Chinese restaurants across Canada.

Not many bands play their very first show opening for legendary Canadian rockers like Trooper. Then again, not many bands are quite like Midnight Shine. The Northern Ontario foursome is turning heads with a sound that seamlessly mixes roots, classic and modern rock. Anchored by the melodic vocals and eloquent lyrics of charismatic singer/songwriter Adrian Sutherland, their music is not only radio-friendly, but also explores First Nations’ culture, tradition and life in the north with depth and meaning. They’re a ‘must-hear’ band you’ll take a real shine to.

Midnight Shine are:

Adrian Sutherland – lead vocals/guitar – from Attawapiskat First Nation
George Gillies – drums/vocals – from Fort Albany First Nation
Stan Louttit – bass/vocals – from Moose Factory First Nation
Zach Tomatuk – guitar/vocals – from Moose Factory First Nation

The Complexities of (Re)conciliation

francetrepaniersqFrance Trépanier is a visual artist, curator and researcher of Kanien’kéha:ka and French ancestry. She is the Aboriginal Curator-in-Residence at Open Space in Victoria, BC. France teaches Indigenous arts at Camosun College. She is co-chair of the Indigenous Program Council at the Banff Centre, Alberta. France was the co-recipient of the 2012 Audain Aboriginal Curatorial Fellowship by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. She co-authored with Chris Creighton-Kelly Understanding Aboriginal Art in Canada Today: a Knowledge and Literature Review for the Canada Council for the Arts. France and Chris are currently working on a two year initiative, Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires, which emphasizes the centrality of Indigenous art practices and those from artists of colour in understanding a new “creation story” for this territory now known as Canada.

Marianne Nicolson (‘Tayagila’ogwa) is an artist of Scottish and Dzawada̱’enux̱w First Nations descent. The Dzwada̱’enux̱w People are a member tribe of the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Her training encompasses both traditional Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw forms and culture and Western European based art practice.  She has completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (1996), a Masters in Fine Arts (1999), a Masters in Linguistics and Anthropology (2005) and a PhD in Linguistics, Anthropology and Art History (2013) at the University of Victoria. She has exhibited her artwork locally, nationally and internationally as a painter, photographer and installation artist, has written and published numerous essays and articles, and has participated in multiple speaking engagements. Her practice engages with issues of Aboriginal histories and politics arising from a passionate involvement in cultural revitalization and sustainability.

ashokmathursqAshok Mathur’s work as a writer, cultural organizer, and interdisciplinary artist addresses the intersections of race, indigeneity, and creative and artistic research. He is the editor of the anthology Cultivating Canada: reconciliation through the lens of cultural diversity (Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2011), and numerous special volumes of arts and literary journals such as West Coast Line and Prairie Fire. His novels include The First White Black Man (monograph press, 2016); A Little Distillery in Nowgong (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009) which also functioned as a collaborative art installation in Vancouver, Kamloops, and Ottawa; The Short Happy Life of Harry Kumar (Arsenal, 2001); and Once Upon an Elephant (Arsenal, 1998); in addition he has published a poetic novella, Loveruage (Wolsak and Wynn, 1993). As a Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry (awarded 2005 at Thompson Rivers University), he has organized and co-ordinated multiple arts-driven initiatives. Most recently he has co-ordinated the Summer Indigenous Intensive program at UBC-Okanagan, bringing artists and intellectuals together in Kelowna for major artistic presidencies. As an educator, Mathur works with critical race theory and radical/liberatory pedagogy to develop transformational and student-driven learning models.

petermorinsqPeter Morin is a Tahltan Nation artist, curator and writer.  He recently relocated from British Columbia to Brandon, Manitoba where he joined the Visual and Aboriginal Arts Faculty at Brandon University. In both his artistic practice and as his curatorial work Morin investigates the impact between indigenous cultural-based practices and western settler colonialism. This work is defined by Tahltan Nation epistemological production and takes the form of performance interventions. Morin has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions including Team Diversity Bannock and the World’s Largest Bannock attempt (2005), A return to the place where God outstretched his hand (2007); 12 Making Objects AKA First Nations DADA (12 Indigenous Interventions) (2009); Peter Morin’s Museum (2011); Peter Morin’s Ceremony Experiments 1 through 8 Circle (2013). In addition to his art making and performance-based practice, Morin has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Anthropology, Western Front, Bill Reid Gallery, and Yukon Art Centre. In 2016, Morin was the recipient of the Hnatshyn Found Mid-Career Award for outstanding achievement as an artist.

On Being Clown: Failing and Reconciling in Canada

This event is co-curated by Julia Lane and Elwood Jimmy.

elwoodjimmysqElwood Jimmy is recently of Guelph, Canada, working as the program coordinator for Musagetes. Prior to that, he worked across the country for over a decade as a cultural manager, visual arts curator, film + music programmer, writer, radio host artist, and member of many multidisciplinary collectives. He is originally from the Thunderchild First Nation, a Nehiyaw community in the Plains region of North America.

julialanesqJulia Lane is a clown scholar, a term that she introduced in her doctoral dissertation to indicate someone who does not merely study clown but also studies as a clown, applying the principles of clowning practice to scholarly inquiry. As a performer, Julia’s work is process-oriented, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and frequently site-specific. She is artistically obsessed with the unexpected and her recent work has been focused on surreptitiously bringing clown performance into academic spaces.

janhendersonsqJan Henderson is one of Canada’s leading clown and mask teachers. For over 30 years she has helped people to get in touch with their most authentic, playful and creative aspect — their inner Wise Fool — and use it to enrich their personal and professional lives. Jan is a co-artistic director of Edmonton clown company, Small Matters Productions, and teaches Clown and Mask in the drama department at the University of Alberta, where she has received four awards for excellence in teaching. She is also a recipient of Global Television’s Woman of Vision Award, and in 2014 she was nominated for an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award for the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts, Edmonton.

christinelesiaksqChristine Lesiak is an Edmonton-based theatre artist and educator specializing in clown, performer-created, and site-specific theatre. She holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre Practice from the University of Alberta. Christine has been creating and performing original works with her company, Small Matters Productions, since 2007. Her most recent work is her original site-specific production, The Object of Constellations (2016), and she is currently in development with two new productions for 2017, Dotage, co-starring Jan Henderson, and the solo show For Science! She is an artistic associate with Edmonton’s Toy Guns Dance Theatre, and artistic director of Edmonton’s clown theatre festival.

amyleesqAmy Lee is a performer, playwright, producer and educator. She is Co-Artistic Director of Up your Nose and In your Toes (U.N.I.T.) Productions and plays Jasp in the Dora Award and Canadian Comedy Award-winning clown duo Morro and Jasp. In addition to performing at numerous theatres throughout the country, Amy has been a writer-in-residence at Factory Theatre, an assistant director at Theatre Columbus and often works as an assistant director, performer, and Resident Artist Educator at Young People’s Theatre. After eleven years of producing theatre in Canada, Morro and Jasp made their international debut this past year, selling out shows in Edinburgh and Vienna. They are published authors of Eat Your Heart Out with Morro and Jasp, an award-winning cookbook, and their video game Morro and Jasp: It’s Your Turn will soon be released on a smartphone near you.

heather-annissqHeather Annis is an actor, playwright, theatrical and therapeutic clown, Co-Artistic Director of U.N.I.T. Productions, and “Morro” of the Dora Award and Canadian Comedy Award winning clown duo Morro and Jasp. Most recently Morro and Jasp premiered their show 9-5 at Factory Theatre, toured to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and are currently working on a video game.
Heather has been part of the Thundering Voices play development program with Native Earth Performing Arts, and Playwright-in-Residence at Factory Theatre and Mixed Company Theatre. She is also a therapeutic clown for elderly and adults in long term care facilities. Heather holds a Masters in Environmental studies with a focus on theatre for social and environmental issues and a BFA in Theatre.

Barry Bilinsky is an Alberta-based theatre artist of Metis/Cree descent originally from Edmonton, Alberta in Treaty 6 territory. His work spans several disciplines, as a theatre Director, Writer, and Clown-based Performer, as well as along the spectrum of community driven projects to professional theatre. Barry is the Artistic Director of Fool Spectrum Theatre, a clown-based theatre company in Alberta, as well as an Artistic Associate with Iiniistsi Treaty Arts Society, Alberta Aboriginal Arts, and the Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society. A graduate of the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Arts program, Barry focuses on creating work with diverse communities through various art disciplines.

michaelkennardsqMichael Kennard is best known as performer and co-creator of the Canadian clown duo Mump & Smoot. Their shows have enjoyed great success in the Fringe Festivals as well as at the Yale Repertory Theatre, the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the La Jolla Playhouse, the Dallas Theatre Centre, Off-Broadway in N.Y. and most recently at Canadian Stage in Toronto. Michael has also been teaching clown in Toronto for over ten years, as well as sharing his practice in University settings around the world. In addition to performing and teaching, Michael has also directed a number of plays and clown-based shows across Canada.

Tara Williamson is a First Nations musician, writer, and recovering academic from Manitoba who comes by way of Peterborough, Ontario. Both of her EPs – Lie Low (produced by James McKenty) and ndn summer (produced by Kinnie Starr) garnered national attention on various music blogs, best-of lists, and placement on the National Aboriginal Music Countdown. Her first full length album, Songs to Keep Us Warm, was released in the winter of 2016 and was produced by Jim Bryson.

Signup for the ArtsEverywhere newsletter

icon-angle icon-bars icon-times